and as they swung from right to left, the girl began to recite at a rapid pace a jingle of words in a Gallic dialect that ran thus: –
One and two,
Drops of dew.
Three and four,
Shut the door.
As she spoke, she indicated a child at each numeral –
Five and six,
Pick up sticks;
Seven and eight,
Thou must wait.
Now passed a thrill through the crowd. The children whirled quicker.
Nine and ten,
Golden pippen, lo! I cast
Thou, Alcmene, touched at last.
At the word “last,” she threw the apple, struck a girl, and at once left the ring, cast her coronet of narcissus into the fountain; and ran into the crowd. For her the risk was past, as she would be over age when the next septennial sacrifice came round.
Now it was the turn of Alcmene. She held the ball, paused a moment, looking about her, and then, as the troop of children revolved she rattled the rhyme and threw the pippin at a damsel named Tertiola. Whereupon she, in her turn, cast her garland of white violets and withdrew.
Again the wreath of children circled, and Tertiola repeated the jingle till she came to “Touched at last,” when a girl named Ælia was selected and came into the middle. This was a child of seven, who was shy and clung to her mother. “My Ælia! Rejoice that thou art not the victim. Be speedy with the verse, and I will join the crustula.”